The Lord’s Thank You and God’s You’re Welcome.
I know this post is long, I will try to write some shorter ones during the week. This is the sermon i preached at Cottonwood this morning. Tell me what you think!
The Lord’s Thank You and God’s You’re Welcome.
Have you ever seen the commercials by Citibank Credit Cards. Two black women bump into each other in the produce department at a grocery store and they begin catching up on the latest news. One ignorantly asks the other, “So when is your baby due?” The brief awkwardness is broken when the offended woman asks, “What baby?” The awkwardness resumes and all the ignorant woman can think of to say is, “Thank You…” with the inflection of hope that her previous mistake will be forgotten. The offended woman looks puzzled for a moment then with a smile says, “Aww, Come here girl!!” and they hug as the narrator talks about how Citibank offers thanks for signing up for their credit card with incredibly low interest rates.
There’s something special about saying thank you. When you receive a thank you card for something you weren’t expecting, it fills you with joy. When you have been treated with kindness, you don’t consider the moment closed until you have said thank you. We teach our kids from an early age that we are to always say, “Please,” and “Thank You.”
Every Sunday we observe a ceremony that in some churches is called “Eucharist.” That ceremony is what we call Communion or the Lord’s Supper. It is called Eucharist because in the Greek, the word Eucharist means thanks. When Jesus broke the bread and served the wine he gave thanks before serving it to his disciples.
26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
30 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
What do we have to give thanks for when we are observing the Lord’s Supper? There are three things we can give thanks for.
We can give thanks for The Forgiveness of Sins. In 1 Cor. 11 verses 24 and 25 when Jesus says do this in remembrance of me, we are to remember the death, burial and resurrection which frees us from our sins. The disciples sitting here in the upper room listening to these words don’t know all of this yet. They don’t know this because Jesus is making a prophesy about what is going to happen. He says drink this, it is the blood of my promise that will be poured out for the forgiveness of sins.
I think this is probably what we most often think of when we observe the Lord’s Supper. We focus on his death. We sing songs like, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” and “Beneath the Cross of Jesus.” I think when we observe Communion we focus most on his death because of the bread and the fruit of the vine. He said the bread is his body and the fruit of the vine is his blood. When he says this we are instantly reminded of the nails and the cross, and the spear in his side. We are instantly reminded of how only a few short hours after saying this he would take his last breath. We are instantly reminded of how he didn’t deserve any of it but we did. We are reminded of how our fate doesn’t include nails and a cross. When we give thanks at the communion table we think about how we are grateful that Christ endured the pain and not us, even though it pains us to think of our Lord being punished for our sins.
It amazes me when I watch war movies because of the sheer terror of being in the middle of a battle. It seems like there’s so much going on that to be aware of anything other then keeping your own life safe would be too difficult. I think what amazes me the most is when I see a soldier amidst other soldiers who sees a grenade thrown into the group and to save the lives of the lives of the rest of his unit he jumps on the grenade so only he is killed. I’ve never been in a situation like that but I can imagine the other soldiers being grateful for the sacrifice even though one they loved had to die.
It’s the same for us when we observe the communion. We are sad that Jesus had to go through what he did on the cross but we are grateful that now, only after our friend and Lord has died, are we able to have the forgiveness of sins.
When we are observing the Lord’s Supper, not only can we give thanks that we have the forgiveness of sins, but we can give thanks that we share this in common with other people. We can give thanks for The Faith Community.
We can give thanks that Communion involves Community. Acts 20:10 tells us that Paul met with other Christians to break bread. He was a part of a community of faithful people who met together each week to observe the Lord’s Supper.
One of the most special things about church is the fellowship that we are able to be a part of. After the three thousand were baptized on the day of Pentecost, Luke tells us that they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship and the breaking of bread and of prayer. It’s clear that the communion is intimately connected with the people who partake of it. To me the most important thing we do on a Sunday morning is share in this meal with one another. It’s not the sermon, or the singing but the Communion.
In the New Testament, it seems to refer to the church observing the communion with a meal. Specifically in 1 Cor. 11:20. The Corinthian church met together to eat a meal with the Lord’s Supper. There were a lot of things they were doing wrong, but I think that if they had not been selfish and eaten all the food before the poorer people could join them, Paul would have commended this practice.
The Community Fellowship that is enjoyed during a meal is evident during our own potluck Sunday. For me Potluck Sunday is the greatest invention of the church of all time. We get to eat in the name of the Jesus!! Can life get any better!!
Seriously meal times are times when you get to enjoy one another’s company and it was no different in the Bible when they met to observe the Lord’s Supper and it was no different earlier when we broke the bread and drank the wine. There’s always something missing when I have to observe the Lord’s Supper without other Christians.
Some churches have the Lord’s Supper before the sermon and some have it after. I like how one church in Abilene does it the best. This church is trying to reach out to the really poor people. Instead of serving communion during the church service, every Sunday they prepare a meal. The Sunday we visited they had chili dogs. They have tables set up for six or eight people and after they have sat down and everyone has started eating. They read a scripture and pray and give communion. Now, why did I say they give communion instead of take? They give communion because the person who starts with the bread breaks off a piece and hands it to the next person saying, “This is the body of Christ, broken for you.” And hands the piece of bread to the next person who then does the same thing until it gets back to the first person.
That church is communing with one another. I am not suggesting that we do things that way here at Cottonwood. I am suggesting and I think the Bible is also telling us that often we overlook the significance of communing not only with Jesus as we remember him but the communion of the saint’s who observe his death, burial and resurrection together.
We can give thanks that we have brothers and sisters in to share Christ’s love with. We can also give thanks that one day we will drink of the fruit of the vine anew with Christ in heaven. We can give thanks for The Future Kingdom.
While reclining at the table in the upper room, Jesus said he will not drink the fruit of the vine again until he does it with us in his father’s kingdom. The meal the disciples were eating was the Passover meal. This is significant for several reasons. The Passover feast was a remembrance of the Passing over of the Lord in Egypt. A lamb was sacrificed and his blood wiped on the doorframes of the Israelites to protect them from the plague of the firstborn. Here Jesus, the firstborn of God, prophesied of his own death and he is later referred to as the Lamb of God. The food of the Passover was created in haste because they were going to be leaving Egypt to go to the Promised Land. Now here, Jesus tells us of another promised land where he will eat with us in the future. The disciples were giving thanks for deliverance from Egypt; we can give thanks for deliverance into Heaven.
The little girl was happily humming a hymn as she dusted the furniture to help her mother. “Mommie, will I be dusting God’s chair when I get to heaven, the way the hymn says?” she asked. Mother looked up with surprise, “Which hymn, honey?” “And dust around the throne,” her little girl quoted. It took a while before the mother learned that she was quoting a line from the hymn “Marching to Zion,” with the phrase, “and thus surround the throne.”
We all have different ideas about what heaven will be like. I think most of us probably do not think of what it will be like during communion. Jesus specifically said at his last supper, I will not drink this again until I drink it anew in my Father’s kingdom. Being one who drinks with Christ is something to be thankful for. Every time we observe the Lord’s Supper we are proclaiming that we are among those who will dine at his banquet table.
When we think about the Lord’s Supper also being called “Eucharist,” we can imagine when we eat the bread and drink the wine that we are saying “Thank You.” We truly are thankful. If you can picture yourself saying thank you, perhaps you can picture God saying, “You’re Welcome.” With regard to the three reasons we have to be thankful, I think God may actually want us to know we are welcome. Maybe God says, “You’re welcome,” when we thank him for forgiving our sins. Maybe he says, “You’re welcome,” when we thank him for the faith community we have to share the communion with. When we thank God for the future kingdom, I really do think God says, “You are welcome in my kingdom.” When we pray our prayers of thanks, God says you’re welcome and this too is something to be thankful for.